Don't Be A Drip!

Calling all water-wasters: Here are 50 ways to keep a precious resource from going down the drain.

Focus On Conserving Water

October 13, 2002|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Staff

It's beginning to seem like a waterless world. Even if it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, it feels as if we'll still be in a drought. Rainfall in the area is already more than 10 inches below normal for this year -- after a dry 2001--- and Baltimore's reservoirs have dropped to below 45 percent of their capacity.

This is a problem on its way to becoming a disaster when you consider that the average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. When the bumper sticker "Conserve water: Shower with a friend" starts to sound less like a joke and more like good advice, we know we're in trouble. "Conserve water: Fix the drippy faucet" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but it might be even better advice. Such repairs can reduce water consumption by 10 percent.

Maybe you aren't even sure what the current mandatory water restrictions are. Here's a quiz:

If your ornamental fountain continuously recycles water, can you leave it on?

If you answered yes, go to www.mde. / drought / mandatory_nov. asp. And turn that fountain off.

Shower with a friend, fix drippy faucets, turn off ornamental fountains: Those are three ways to conserve. Here are 50 more, large and small. If some seem not to save enough water to matter, think of them as symbolic. They'll get you in the conserving mode, and get people around you to think about their water use.

1. Enlist the whole family's help in conserving water.

2. When running water to get it hot, collect it and use it for something else.

3. Don't run water to get it cold for drinking. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge.

4. Most water wasted in the home is used flushing toilets. Don't flush unnecessarily.

5. If the toilet handle sticks when it's in the flush position, have it adjusted or replaced.

6. Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket.

7. Test to see if you have a leaky toilet by adding a few drops of food color to the tank. If color appears in the toilet bowl, have the leak repaired.

8. If it's possible to replace old toilets, you'll use about 1 1/2 gallons a flush instead of 4 to 7.

9. Put a weighted half-gallon plastic container in the tank of a vintage toilet. It will use less water with each flush.

10. Fill the bathtub a third of what you usually do when you bathe.

11. Take a sink sponge bath in place of a shower or bath every once in a while, especially now that the weather is cooler.

12. Bathe small children together.

13. Install flow-restricting devices on showerheads.

14. Take showers instead of baths. You could save 10 to 20 gallons of water.

15. Shower quickly -- less than 5 minutes.

16. Use a 3-minute timer when your kids shower.

17. Turn off the water when applying shampoo or shaving legs. Or shave legs with lotion.

18. Use leave-in hair conditioner instead of rinse-out.

19. Turn down the valves under the sink to slow the flow of water.

20. Use a small glass of water to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth. You could save 2 gallons.

21. Fill the basin instead of running water when you shave.

22. Wet hands. Turn off the water. Soap. Turn the water back on to rinse.

23. Use antiseptic wet wipes on your hands sometimes. You can save 3 to 5 gallons.

24. When you buy a new dishwasher or washing machine, let water consumption as well as energy efficiency guide your selection.

25. If you're buying a new washing machine, consider a front-loading model. They use a third less water.

26. Launder only full loads.

27. Choose the proper water level for the size of your load.

28. Wash clothes only when they're dirty, not to remove wrinkles.

29. Avoid the permanent press cycle. Most use extra water.

30. Laundry water or bath water can be used to water outdoor plants if it doesn't contain bleach or borax. Don't pour directly on plants.

31. If you're hand-washing underwear, hose or sweaters, use the rinse water to wash the next batch.

32. Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.

33. Use the dishwasher's water miser cycle.

34. Scrape, don't rinse dishes about to be washed in the dishwasher.

35. Better yet, wash dishes by hand. Use a pan of soapy water and a pan of water for rinsing. Change the water as needed.

36. Avoid using your garbage disposal. Try composting instead.

37. Don't use running water to thaw meat or frozen vegetables. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or use the microwave.

38. Wash raw fruits and vegetables in a bowl or dishpan, not under running water.

39. Use pans with tight-fitting lids so water won't boil away.

40. Cook vegetables in just a little water. It's healthier, too.

41. When you boil water for pasta, cook the vegetables in it at the same time.

42. Measure the water you boil for a cup of tea or coffee first.

43. When you give your pet fresh water, use the old water for house plants.

44. Wash your dog in a tub.

45. When you use water for housecleaning, start with the less dirty surfaces so you can reuse the water.

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